Death tolls in Iraq

October 4, 2012 at 4:01 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Despite The Headlines September 2012 Was Not An Extraordinarily Deadly Month

Headlines said that September 2012 was the deadliest month in Iraq for two years. That’s only because Baghdad has been artificially it seems keeping down its death tolls since the end of 2010. Other organizations like Iraq Body Count had September’s casualties being lower than the previous three months, while averaging the statistics found that September was much like July. That goes to show that when the official mortality numbers are released each month for Iraq, they need to be placed in context and analyzed closely.

Despite Iraq’s ministries’ claims, September 2012 was actually not much different from the rest of the summer, which has seen an uptick in attacks due to the on-going offensive by the insurgency. The Defense, Interior, and Health Ministries claimed there were 365 deaths in September. That was a large jump from the 164 reported in August, but close to July’s 325. Last month was the highest official casualty figure since July 2010 when Baghdad claimed 534 casualties. September was also one of the rare occasions when the government’s numbers were higher than Iraq Body Count. It had 356 deaths for the month. That was actually down from August’s 393, July’s 414, and June’s 495. Placing the statistics in context showed that the Iraqi government actually reported believable numbers for September. That month and July were the only two for 2012 that were comparable with Iraq Body Count, which has consistently been the most reliable source for deaths in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003. Otherwise, Baghdad has consistently been keeping its monthly counts below 200. The government is likely doing that on purpose to portray the country as being more secure now that the American military has withdrawn. That trend is highlighted when looking at the ministries’ numbers for 2011 when only five months had less than 200 deaths.

Deaths In Iraq 2010-2012
Month
Iraq Body Count
Iraqi Ministries
Avg. Monthly Deaths
Avg. Daily Deaths
Jan. 2010
260
196
228
7.3
Feb.
301
236
268
9.5
Mar.
335
183
259
8.3
Apr.
381
259
320
10.6
May
377
279
328
10.5
Jun.
377
176
276
9.2
Jul.
424
534
269
8.6
Aug.
516
363
439
14.1
Sep.
252
174
213
7.1
Oct.
311
185
248
8.0
Nov.
302
174
238
7.9
Dec.
217
128
172
5.5
2010 Mo. Avg.
337
240
271
8.8
Jan. 2011
387
259
323
10.4
Feb.
250
167
208
7.4
Mar.
307
247
277
8.9
Apr.
285
211
246
8.2
May
378
177
277
8.9
Jun.
385
271
328
10.9
Jul.
305
259
282
9.0
Aug.
398
239
318
10.2
Sep.
394
185
289
9.6
Oct.
355
258
306
9.8
Nov.
272
187
229
7.6
Dec.
386
155
270
8.7
2011 Mo. Avg.
341
217
279
9.1
Jan. 2012
492
151
321
10.3
Feb.
316
150
233
8.3
Mar.
340
112
226
7.2
Apr.
315
126
220
7.3
May
229
132
180
5.8
Jun.
495
131
313
10.4
Jul.
414
325
369
11.9
Aug.
393
164
278
8.9
Sep.
356
365
360
12.0
2012 Mo. Avg.
372
184
277
9.1
The average of the government and Iraq Body Count’s figures showed the on-going summer offensive by the insurgency. In September, there were an average of 360 deaths, and 12.0 per day. That was up from 278 in August, and 8.9 casualties per day, but comparable to July, which had 369 deaths and 11.9 a day. June was the beginning of the offensive with an average of 313 deaths and 10.4 per day, a large jump from May’s 180 and 5.8 per day. Last year the summer campaign only lasted until October. Hopefully that means militants have a month more left in them before they ramp down their activities. Overall, Iraq’s insurgents have been carrying out around the same number of attacks since the second half of 2011. What has changed is that those acts have grown deadlier with a higher average number of casualties per attack since the 3rd quarter of 2011. Again, this shows the nuances of violence in Iraq.

Iraq is a country full of contradictions. It is a place with a huge number of terrorist acts, but most of those happen in a few select cities. During certain months violence ramps up, and then taps down. On top of that, it has a government that apparently is trying to cover up the levels of instability that still remain. That’s part of the complicated tapestry that makes up Iraq’s current security situation. It’s these differences that need to be noted every time the monthly death tolls are released, because the raw numbers alone only provide a small picture of what’s going on.
SOURCES
Iraq Body Count
Reuters, “Iraq’s monthly death toll doubles, bloodiest for two years,” 10/1/12
Published in Musings on Iraq, by Joel Wing

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